The meaning of “pagan” is rocky hillside. It is a word originating in the idea of being firmly set, of fixed place, implying a geographical dedication to each place, separate and distinct and belonging to the spiritus loci who inhabit it. —- James Hillman
We are now entering the Shadow of America. We will be doing so with many more examples. It is a shadow that in fact we still identify with, while at the same time we don’t see or feel it in ourselves but project it onto others and it becomes our civilization.
For example, when people arrived here, the ‘here’ was experienced as completely unknown, something utterly deeper than, for example, going to another country now and experience something “unknown”. It was, for a very long time, an unknown that would not yield to any kind of knowing. It never did yield its true Life, not to outsiders, who thought that conquering it would be the only way of asserting their very existence.
Immense trees, unknown creatures, canopies of trees for miles and miles and miles, unending rocks, huge rocks, canyons, snakes, unknown animals, and unknown human beings, unknown and thus carrying the projection of ‘innocents’ (Columbus), or ‘savages’ (also Columbus). The unknown land carried the projections of ‘filled with gold” (Cortez). “America” is a projection, or many, many projections. We still cannot experience what is here. We think that Western civilization originated with the Greeks. But the Greeks built temples of the gods and goddesses in ways that deliberately made the gods and goddesses separate from the land. (Gaia was ‘Mother of Earth’ and perhaps also ‘Earth’ but in the mythology, she gave birth to the Titans to oppose the sky gods…..and was quickly diminished.
If our civilization is attributed as originating with the Greeks, we can never feel the depth of being of this land. All attempts at ecology are thus theory and the applications of theory.
If our civilization is attributed to the many immigrations from many, many different places, European, South American, Asian, and many, many other places, the important and significant overlay from these many cultures still obscures that this land is not just a place where Indians lived – there was/is no difference between the Indians and the land:
“We have even lost the Greek’s constant awareness that nature indubitably exists. We ignore it; we confront it no longer. For the Greeks the relationship was tragic (we are oriented toward freedom from nature, according to the Greeks). To us, the relationship is trivial. Since this is so, how can we hope to penetrate even deeper to that landscape of the consciousness where we are and mountain are the same? Yet we must try to do so, because the American Indian world is a place where no conception whatever of any difference between men and nature can exist, since there is, in fact, no discrimination between nature and man as such, but only an ineradicable instinct that all living things are one. All are living: snake, mountain, cloud, eagles, and men.”(pg. 6 PUEBLO Mountain, Village, Dance, by Vincent Scully).
The unknown was never entered. It was wholly projected outward, and the heroic archetype set out to conquer it, projecting the unknown as what can be solved by exploration, conquering, clearing, projecting all sorts of fantasies on the beings who were here., and the land that is the ‘here’.
When the complete and utter unknown is experienced through the ego, what would otherwise be a mystical experience, is instead experienced in literal form – gold, for instance, rather than illumination of the Sun within. The Sun as simultaneously the illumination of the land and the quickening of life; encountering this reality, enacting it as drama, was central to the Anasazi — they enacted rituals and ceremonies not for themselves, but for the whole of humanity – to bring this reality into all of humanity. Chaco Canyon, the great place of the Anasazi (the pre-Pueblo people), was the center of this sacrifice. The spiral – thus Sun as center and periphery; the fully human being as center and periphery. Community as essential to being oneself, as non-existent without everyone, without being the whole of Earth, who we are.
Next time; A first meeting with the ‘here’.